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Saturday, March 22, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Baseball -- Ventura Suffers Broken Leg -- White Sox Third Baseman Out At Least Three Months

AP

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) - Chicago White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura broke his leg and severely dislocated his right ankle sliding into home plate last night. He will be sidelined at least three months.

Ventura tried to score from second base on Ray Durham's single to left but was thrown out to end the fourth inning. After Boston catcher Bill Haselman applied the tag, Ventura did not get up, holding his leg in the air with his ankle gruesomely twisted.

"I was walking off and I heard someone say, `Oh, man,' " said Red Sox pitcher Steve Avery, who was 10 feet away backing up the play. "It looked like he caught his foot on the plate."

Ventura's wife, Stephanie, visibly shaken, came onto the field but was escorted away by White Sox personnel while medics attended to the 29-year-old player. Ventura was taken off the field on a stretcher.

A woman in the stands who saw the injury had to be treated by medics after fainting.

"There was some concern that it (his leg) was covered up, so nobody could see it," said medic Pat Wolf, who was among the half-dozen people who rushed onto the field. "But he remained calm."

Wolf said Dr. James Boscardin, the senior team physician, tried to realign Ventura's ankle on the field but couldn't because of muscle spasms. The ankle was realigned inside the clubhouse, where Ventura was hooked to an intravenous tube.

Ventura was then taken Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where the compound fracture of the tibula and fibula was diagnosed. Surgery was scheduled for today.

Ventura will not be able to put weight on the leg for six weeks, and doctors say he should be sidelined at least three to four months. A four-time Gold Glove winner and 1992 all-star, Ventura is a career .276 hitter who is fifth in White Sox history with 144 home runs.

Saints interested in Irabu

SAN DIEGO - The St. Paul Saints, who signed Darryl Strawberry last year, are the latest independent team to show an interest in Japanese pitcher Hideki Irabu.

In a letter faxed yesterday, Saints chairman and co-owner Marvin Goldklang asked Yoshiaki Kanai, the executive secretary of Japanese baseball, if signing Irabu would violate any contractual relationship Irabu has with the Chiba Lotte Marines or would violate the Japanese Professional Baseball Code.

Goldklang wrote that if the answer to either question was yes, the Northern League team wouldn't negotiate with Irabu, whose fastball has been clocked at 100 mph.

Goldklang is a limited partner of the New York Yankees, who are one of several teams who have made trade proposals to the San Diego Padres.

Notes

-- Cincinnati shortstop Barry Larkin's left heel was much improved, two days after he got a cortisone shot in a swollen bursa sac. He could be ready by Opening Day. He was batting .435 before the injury.

-- The New York Yankees will retire Don Mattingly's No. 23 before their Aug. 31 game against the Montreal Expos. He will become the 14th Yankee to have his number retired.

-- Charles Nagy, who started the All-Star Game last season, was picked to start for the Cleveland Indians on Opening Day.

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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